STATE-WIDE ADDRESS BY HIS EXCELLENCY, GOVERNOR MUHAMMADU INUWA YAHAYA (DAN MAJEN GOMBE) ON THE OCCASION OF 25TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE CREATION OF GOMBE STATE
My dear people of Gombe State
It is with profound gratitude to Allah (SWT) that I address you this morning. Today marks 25 years since our state was created from the then Bauchi State by the military administration of General Sani Abacha. That followed nearly 20 years of relentless struggle by our leaders and the entire people. This day also coincided with the 61 years of Nigeria’s independence.
2. Indeed, the creation of Gombe State on the 1st of October 1996 heralded a new dawn of hope on what we can achieve as a people bound together in this shared geographic territory with a long history of relationships and social interactions.
3. Looking back at our momentous journey as a state, it is with deep sense of pride and joy that I admonish us to ponder over our history with a view to appreciating the struggles, sacrifices and challenges that our leaders and founding fathers endured in order to actualise our collective dream of building a vibrant state at the centre of the north-east geopolitical zone of the country.
4. Beginning with the movement for state creation in the early 1980s, our leaders demonstrated an uncommon sprit of determination, resilience, unity and sacrifice. That extraordinary struggle was successful because of their ability to eschew all forms differences among them and unite in the pursuit of our common agenda. No doubt the greatest legacy our founding fathers left for us from their struggle for state creation is the legacy of unity and sacrifice which we continue to uphold till today, thereby making our state one of the most peaceful and socially cohesive states in the country. Our ability to maintain unity in the midst of diversity is without doubt our greatest source of strength; it is the catalyst that keeps us going, making us one of the fastest developing states in the country, despite the relatively lean financial resources available to the state.
5. Our first military administrator, Group Captain J.I Orji must be credited for laying a solid foundation by putting up a broad-based development agenda. He established the administrative structure of the state, provided critical infrastructure such as housing and office accommodation for civil servants, built roads, raised revenues and provided critical support to the citizenry. Group Captain Orji’s modest but significant accomplishments were consolidated and built upon by his successor, Col. M.I Bawa (of blessed memory). Under Bawa, the state witnessed significant increase in investments on basic infrastructure such as roads, bridges, schools and hospitals, coupled with important policies set to revitalise the basic education sector.
6. Following the country’s return to democracy in 1999, the administration of Governor Abubakar Habu Hashidu (of blessed memory) introduced some laudable initiatives in the area of agriculture, water supply, rural development, conflict prevention, healthcare delivery and basic education. The Hashidu administration also recorded significant milestones in the housing sector, construction of access roads in rural and urban areas, and provision of financial loans to individuals and cooperatives in order to boost self-reliance and reduce poverty. Similarly, the administration constructed office complexes for civil servants, the judiciary and the legislature. It also established the Gombe fertilizer blending plant, resuscitated cotton farming in the state, revitalised the moribund state poultry production unit (PPU), embarked on extensive rural electrification projects and established the Gombe State Investment and Property Development Company (GSIPDC).
7. On his part, Governor Muhammad Danjuma Goje initiated and completed a large number of legacy projects such as the Gombe State University, the Gombe International Airport, and the Pantami Stadium, among others. He also ensured a timely completion of some major projects he inherited from the Hashidu administration such as the Gombe Regional Water Supply Project, the Gombe International Hotel project, and the dualization of Tunfure-Liji road. In addition, the Goje administration constructed several rural and urban roads across the state, renovated over 110 primary schools, and connected dozens of villages to the national grid.
8. The immediate past administration of Governor Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo also made significant headways in providing critical infrastructure by expanding existing roads especially in the state capital and building new road networks in the local government areas of the state. The administration had also encouraged and provided support for farming and commercial activities. Other sectors such as education and health also received the attention of the past administration.
9. On coming to office on the 29th May 2019 2019, we strived to consolidate the achievements of all the past administrations. We took bold steps to confront the myriad of challenges facing our dear state.
10. Our administration is pursuing a rapid and wide-ranging development by addressing long-standing infrastructure deficits through aggressive spending on roads, hospitals and healthcare facilities, schools, water projects, and urban renewal. We have sustained our commitment to promoting all-inclusive growth and development by redressing the neglect of rural communities and low-income neighbourhoods in the provision of ‘dividends of democracy’.
11.We introduced and implemented bold public sector reforms such as the treasury single account and a strong fiscal responsibility regime, while ensuring the minimisation of overhead costs. We also established the Bureau for public Service Reforms and introduced the biometric standardisation of civil servants to tackle the ghost worker syndrome and improve performance, among others.
12. Following the successful implementation of these reforms, within the last two years, we constructed about 370km of road networks across the state under our ambitious network 11-100 initiative. Similarly, we constructed or renovated and equipped nearly 600 classrooms in primary and secondary schools in all the 11 local government areas, just as we upgraded 5 legacy secondary schools – GGSSS Doma, GSSS Gombe, GSSS Kaltungo, GSS Dukku and GCSS Dadin Kowa.
13.In our bid to achieve fiscal sustainability in the wake of dwindling allocation to the state from the federation account as well as agitations for resource control, we have repositioned the state’s Internal Revenue Service thereby enabling us to improve our Internally Generated revenue by 25% in 2020 fiscal year and by 62% in first quarter of 2021. We awarded contract for the construction of the first phase of the 1,000ha Muhammadu Buhari industrial park in Dadin Kowa.
14. Equally, we signed MOUs with the NNPC on 600 millon dollars’ worth of biofuel project in Kupto-Malleri axis of Funakaye and Kwami LGAs; Rift Oil Ltd. on oil and gas exploitation in the state; and Madugu Cement Company Ltd. for the establishment of five million metric tonnes cement factory in Akko and Yamaltu-Deba LGAs. In addition, discussions have reached an advanced stage with interested investors and the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) with a view to harnessing the vast economic potentials of Balanga and Cham Dams in Balanga LGA. These industrial development efforts when finalised, will swiftly open our state’s economy to capital inflow and rapid industrialisation with attendant benefits of wealth and job creation, increase in revenue generation, as well as general economic growth and prosperity.
15.In the health sector, we have provided at least 1 functional Primary Healthcare Centre in each of the 114 wards of the state to give 24 hours health service to the people. Furthermore, we fully upgraded the Gombe Specialist Hospital to a modern health facility, commenced the upgrade of General Hospitals in Bajoga and Kaltungo as well as the construction of a brand-new general hospital in Kumo. We have also made concerted efforts to ensure that medical personnel are posted to all revitalised and new health facilities in the state. To ensure that our citizens get financial protection against unbearable health expenditure, we introduced the Gombe State Contributory Health Scheme (GoHealth) which has so far provided over 25,000 poor and vulnerable people with basic healthcare services.
16.Mindful of the devastating effects of global climate change and environmental degradation in our state, we introduced an ambitious environmental restoration programme tagged Gombe Goes Green. The initiative has so far planted nearly three million trees through the establishment of woodlots, shelterbelts, roadside and school plantations as well as social forestry. Through our partnership with the NEWMAP project, we have completed the construction of 7.5km Gombe State University — Mallam Inna — Unguwa Uku massive gully and we are working hard to control others. Also, and very importantly, we are not left behind in the current global efforts to embrace renewable energy sources as we have gone far in the installation of beautiful and cost effective all-in-one solar powered streetlights all over the Gombe metropolis.
17. We are aware that current trends of population growth have shown that in the coming decade or two, 75 percent of our population will be living in cities. This understanding informs our resolve to make Gombe and other local government headquarters cities of the future. To this end, we have introduced another ambitious initiative – the State Capital Special Development Zone Project – where we will provide state-of-the art infrastructure while ensuring strict compliance with development control guidelines. In sha Allah the zone will host our ultramodern state secretariat, House of Assembly and Judiciary complexes – our three arms zone that is befitting of a state capital. These legacy projects, among others, will make Gombe one of the most beautiful and functional state capitals in the country.
18.Notable progress has been made with regards to our partnership with the federal government to pilot the National Livestock Development Plan at the Wawa-Zange Grazing Reserve. It is my candid hope that upon the successful completion of construction works, the grazing reserve will change the fortunes of our largely agrarian population, especially our livestock farmers.
19. To sustain all these and future efforts in a coordinated manner, we developed and launched an ambitious 10-year development plan titled the Development Agenda for Gombe State 2021-2030 (DEVAGOM). The plan is imbued with robust implementation mechanisms for transforming the state and setting it on the path of long-term growth and sustainable development. We believe that the Plan will also offer future administrations clear pathways for pursuing inclusive development.
20. We are clearly aware that all these would not have been achieved without the adequate support of our people. With your critical support and understanding, we were able to overcome many challenges as a state, the recent being the adverse economic and social effects of the novel coronavirus pandemic. Through the relentless work of our past and present leaders, as well as your continued support, Gombe State has become a good example of what can be achieved if leaders remain tenaciously committed to continuous improvement in good governance and service to the people.
21.Throughout the world, development is and has always been a work-in-progress. In Gombe State, we can proudly say that the work of development has continued to progress since 1996. At 25, we should all be proud of what we have collectively achieved. While the task ahead is great, I will once again appeal for your prayers and understanding as we work tirelessly to move the state forward.
22. My dear people of Gombe State, as we count our blessings today, I want us to take this moment to remember and honour our heroes who selflessly championed the cause for the creation of Gombe State and those who contributed immensely to its development. While some of them are with us today, many of them have passed on. May the souls of those that departed rest in peace.
23. Finally, I want to single out and thank our truly exceptional traditional and religious leaders who continue to work day-and-night to ensure that we establish and maintain a tolerant, united, and peaceful state. I will not end this speech without acknowledging the sacrifices of the entire people of Gombe State throughout this historic journey to statehood. We shall continue to count on your understanding and cooperation. On our part, we will remain focussed and committed to the lofty ideals of our founding fathers.
24.Lastly, I congratulate all of us on this memorable day and wish us many more returns with bountiful blessings of the Almighty Allah.
25. HAPPY SILVER JUBILEE AND 61ST INDEPENDENCE ANNIVERSARY.
26. May Allah (SWT) bless us, our State and our great country Nigeria.